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POETS, COURTESANS, AND MONKS             145

had been true- and known. But cousins have often fallen in love since
time began. Su Tungpo did not and could not defy the conventions
by marrying his first cousin on the father's side who bore the same
clan name, Su.

One poem which he scribbled on the wall of the monastery at Chiao-
slian, during the trip to Chinkiang, is of particular interest to Western
readers. Su Tungpo should have known of the Cinderella story, with
the step-mother, step-sisters, missing slipper and all, which was con-
tained in the writings of a ninth-century Chinese author.* But as far
as I know, he was the first to put in writing the story of how an old
man arranged his beard when he went to bed.

In a simple rhyme he told of a man with a long beard who never
gave a thought of how he should arrange his beard in bed. One day
^someone asked him where he put his beard during sleep. That night
ia bed he became conscious of his beard. He first put it outside his
quilt and then inside, and then outside again, and lost sleep the whole
night. The next morning he got so restless that he thought the best
way would be to cut it off. From the text of the poem, this seems to be
a popular tale, not an invention of the poet himself.

It may be appropriate to mention here that Su was the originator
of the parable of "The Blind Man's Idea of the Sun", written at
Michow. Albert Einstein somewhere quoted this parable to illustrate
the-'average man's idea of the theory of relativity.

"There was a man born blind. He had never seen the sun and
asked about it of people who could see. Someone told him: The
sun's shape is like a brass tray.' The blind man struck the brass tray
and heard its sound. Later, when he heard the sound of a bell, he
thought it was the sun. Again someone told him: 'The sunlight is
like that of a candle/ and the blind man felt the candle, and thought
that was the sun's shape. Later he felt a [big] key and thought it
was a sun. The sun is different from a bell or a key, but the blind
man cannot tell their difference because he has never seen it. The
truth (Tao) is harder to see than the sun, and when people do not
know it they are exactly like the blind man. Even if you do your
best to explain by analogies and examples, it still appears like the
analogy of the brass tray and the candle. From what is said of the
brass tray, one imagines a bell, and from what is said about a candle,
one imagines a key. In this way, one gets ever further and further
away from the truth. Those who speak about Tao sometimes give
it a name according to what they happen to see, of imagine what it
is like without seeing it. These are mistakes in the effort to under-
stand Tao"
* See Wisdom of China and India, page 94